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20 TV Shows Recreated With Peeps

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1. Downton Abbey

This diorama is titled The Peeple of Downton Abbey by Tonya and Angela of Maplewood, Minnesota. The dollhouse-inspired scene shows four different rooms with marshmallow characters.

The entire cast is lined up for their portrait in this version called Peepton Abbey by Caroline Chase, Valerie Boyle, and Daniel Boyle. There were more Downton Abbey scenes in Peeps than I could keep up with, but you can see a couple more good ones here and here.

2. The Walking Dead

The gruesome AMC show The Walking Dead makes a great diorama with the help of raspberry jelly and red licorice. This scene by Loren Sciurba of Alexandria shows Shane escaping a hoard by shooting Otis and leaving him to distract the zombies.

What detail! Other Walking Dead dioramas are found at the Denver Post and the Pioneer Press. And I like this one featuring Darrel with his crossbow, although I can't seem to find the original artist.

3. Pee Wee's Playhouse

Pee Wee's Playhouse was an ultra-colorful kids show that still looks good in candy. Rebecca Cohen and Emily Salomon made this scene.

4. Game of Thrones

Epicurious posted a series of Peep scenes illustrating the HBO series Game of Thrones.

5. The Simpsons

There are a lot of Peep versions of The Simpsons, as the yellow characters are easy to depict. The best photograph of a Simpsons scene in Peeps is from a student team consisting of John Dern, Kim Moore, Allegra Williams, Cady Clas, and sophomore Chelsea Burke. It was a semifinalist in the Washington Post contest in 2007.

6. Dexter

A Peepisode of Dexter is a Peeps version of the serial killer series Dexter. Another contest entry depicts the same scene.

7. The Voice

The Voice is a talent show that's overtaken American Idol in popularity. As you can see in this diorama from Megan Lowell, Jessica Doody, and Dana Lowell, the judges select the best voices without seeing what the contestants look like.

8. Real Housewives

A soap opera diorama was submitted to the Washington Post contest this year by Talula Cordero. There are several Real Housewives series, but this one was custom-titled The Real Peep Wives of Dupont Circle.

9. Iron Chef

Is a cooking competition show rendered in food just too meta? Iron Chef turned into Iron Peeps in this Washington Post entry by Nancy, Katie, and Julie Eggar. The accessories are dollhouse furniture or handmade from clay. See another version of the same show in the Denver Post competition.

10. Nip/Tuck

The plastic surgery drama Nip/Tuck was depicted in the 2009 diorama Peep/Tuck by Jennifer Storozuk, Kathleen Lyons, and Karen James.

11. Arrested Development

This title scene from Arrested Development was submitted to the Washington Post by thuytut.

12. The Price is Right

Game shows lend themselves well to Peeps, especially those with big, gaudy sets and contestants in costume, like The Price is Right. Kay Martinez, Maree Martinez, Stacey Rathbun, and Cynthia Abernathy created this in 2009. See this Peeps game in action at YouTube.

13. The Muppet Show

Muppets are colorful and tempting to recreate in miniature marshmallow form. Shown here are Muppets by Anna and Thalia Biglen. Another diorama has The Muppets posing in the show's opening sequence. Yet another version of the marshmallow Muppets is based on a movie, but it's worth a look.

14. Twin Peaks

Another submission to the Washington Post, this version of the David Lynch series Twin Peaks came from Hollys Bears.

15. The Monkees

A tribute to the 1960s TV series The Monkees was entered into the Pioneer Post competition by bboard61.

16. The Twilight Zone

The classic Twilight Zone episode "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" starring a very young William Shatner inspired this Peeps scene by Allie Berg and Jonathan Herr in 2009. The black and white effect is part of the work; this was not altered after the photograph was taken.

17. Hee Haw

The long-running country music and comedy series Hee Haw becomes Peep Haw in this diorama. Karen McCoy's entry became a semifinalist in the 2007 Washington Post competition.

18. Swamp People

The series Swamp People is a reality show following the trials of bayou alligator hunters. In this scene from Michele Overton and Susan Anderson they are shown surrounded by marshmallows with hungry alligator faces. Another version showed up in the Pioneer Press competition.

19. Keeping Up with the Kardashians

Kim's wedding was memorialized in marshmallow, by Carolyn Polinsky and Emily Dunne. The title is, of course, Peeping Up with the Kardashians.

20. Batman

The 1960s TV series Batman is recreated here under the title Peepman and Boypeep Speed to the Peepmobile to Feed the Parking Meter. Liz Roberts made this in 2007 and made finalist in the WaPo contest. Note the "bat signal" that throws a Peep shape, and the parking meter showing its teeth!

See more Peeps dioramas at the Minneapolis/St. Paul Pioneer Press, the Dallas-Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, the Denver Post, and The Washington Post.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief
What Happened to Jamie and Aurelia From Love Actually?
May 26, 2017
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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief

Fans of the romantic-comedy Love Actually recently got a bonus reunion in the form of Red Nose Day Actually, a short charity special that gave audiences a peek at where their favorite characters ended up almost 15 years later.

One of the most improbable pairings from the original film was between Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurelia (Lúcia Moniz), who fell in love despite almost no shared vocabulary. Jamie is English, and Aurelia is Portuguese, and they know just enough of each other’s native tongues for Jamie to propose and Aurelia to accept.

A decade and a half on, they have both improved their knowledge of each other’s languages—if not perfectly, in Jamie’s case. But apparently, their love is much stronger than his grasp on Portuguese grammar, because they’ve got three bilingual kids and another on the way. (And still enjoy having important romantic moments in the car.)

In 2015, Love Actually script editor Emma Freud revealed via Twitter what happened between Karen and Harry (Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman, who passed away last year). Most of the other couples get happy endings in the short—even if Hugh Grant's character hasn't gotten any better at dancing.

[h/t TV Guide]